“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus in like manner evil things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
How many times… have we heard this parable? How many times does this message repeat in the Gospels, in sermons, in what we profess as Christian disciples? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind — or the Holy Spirit — and has been since long before this Gospel was written, before Jesus, before Moses, and before Moses’s prophets.
What we seem to want to deny is witnessed in the “great chasm” between inter-relational and systemic injustice and oppression that persists in life on earth in this time. This story also alludes to the fear that what we do in our lifetimes on earth can influence what happens after — in “heaven” or in “hades.”
But the point is also made that we are here and there right now, whenever there is a chasm between what or whom we listen to, what we do, and what we say we believe.
Our selective willingness to heed our shared Abrahamic prophets is as ancient as they are. And the message remains unchanged. God entitles us all to nothing, and everything.
Economist and theologian Glenn Jordan’s reflection on death being the final equalizer is all the more poignant following his death in 2020.
Cited in Jordan’s piece is an excellent commentary on this week’s reading by Ched Myers from Radical Discipleship.
VISUAL ART AND MUSIC
The inspiration for the reflection above comes from the Bob Dylan song Blowin’ in the Wind, which has become as timeless as the references in the lyrics, and covered by over 300 artists, including Stevie Wonder, who speaks to the persistence of human injustices. And in this video version, with Dylan’s recording and accompanying images.
Amanda Gorman’s new poem, In This Place, is a poignant and searing example of today’s young activist poets, rappers, and bards, echoing the pains of injustice and hopes for freedom that were spoken by the ancient prophets.
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Discovery returns this Sunday at 10am with a new series: Ordinary and Extraordinary Saints. In this series, we’ll learn about the lives of people who served, sacrificed, and followed their faith calling and explore what they can teach us about our own life of faith.
Children’s Time returns for Pre-K–5th grade students Sunday at 10am in Trinity Commons on the Mezzanine and Nursery Care for babies and toddlers is back 11am for parents attending the 11:15am Holy Eucharist in Trinity Church. If you haven’t already, enroll your child(ren) now to make check-in a breeze.